Walking down Semple Street, students will discover one of Oakland’s new party spots – Phat Bar. The giant pink neon sign, loud music, friendly atmosphere and cool drinks are designed to attract customers.
Phat Nguyen, Phung Nguyen and Andy Do opened Phat’s bar on January 21 after spontaneously coming up with the idea at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Phung Nguyen said they themselves customized the interior to make their bar different from other party scenes.
âWe just want to find a great place that has great music, great food and a great atmosphere,â Phung Nguyen said. âI always say, you can take to the streets and buy alcohol anywhere. But why do you want to come here? It should be an experience. It should be fun. He should feel safe.
Phat Nguyen also owns Ineffable CÃ PhÃª in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Do lived in Atlanta before opening Phat’s with the Nguyen brothers. After Phung Nguyen was stuck in Pittsburgh due to COVID-19-related flight cancellations, the duo decided to open a bar with Do, mixing their personal experiences of partying in Atlanta and Pittsburgh.
After helping out at the cafe and doing various jobs, Do discovered the challenges of owning a bar – being constantly on guard and thinking fast to keep guests entertained. Unlike the cafe’s stable business model, Phung Nguyen said the bar emphasizes the importance of creating a fun and diverse atmosphere for all of its customers, which can vary depending on the day and type of crowd.
âYou are selling an experience. You are selling a party. No one wants to go to a festival of the dead, âsaid Phung Nguyen. “You have to sell the party, you have to create the hype, you have to get everyone excited.”
According to Delaney Gatenby, a junior specializing in film and theater, the trio managed to put on a party scene that incorporated excitement and intimacy with everyone who enters the room. She said Phat’s was the perfect combination of a party scene and a chill out space for socializing.
” It’s intimate. Usually in a bar, there is the bar area, tables and dancing. But it has places where you can sit and talk, âGatenby said. âIt’s nice to be able to go somewhere else if you want to have a conversation rather than just being in the mix. “
Dylan Zilles, a junior specializing in mechanical engineering, said the friendly atmosphere in the bar was visible not only with Phung Nguyen and Do, but also with the attention of the bartenders.
âThe service is amazing,â Zilles said. âThe atmosphere is perfect, not too noisy. I don’t know how to explain it any other way, it’s just perfect.
Do said that Phat employees try to engage with their customers, whether it’s playing giant Jenga or cornhole outdoors, or just chatting with revelers at the dinner table.
âThere will be nights when we would play Connect Four and people would come and try to beat us because apparently we’re really good,â Do said.
Phung Nguyen said customers can win a free hit if they beat him with Do at Connect Four, currently an undefeated duo, stressing the importance of friendly customer interaction.
âIf you can beat us, we’ll give you a chance,â said Phung Nguyen. “We want to interact with people and have that kind of connection with them – I think it’s been a positive experience there.”
In addition to constantly developing its community aspect, Phat’s Bar is continually evolving towards its constantly evolving clientele. Do says most of their customers are local students, so there is a rotation of new regulars every few years. Such fluctuation forces the trio to come up with new ideas on how to keep the bar on top of people’s interests.
Currently, the Phat’s Bar hosts DJs most nights, along with karaoke on Wednesdays and special themed events. Past events include a PJ night where guests have come to party in their pajamas, or the âVery Important Phat Asses Nightâ, where clients have come formally dressed.
The owners plan to serve brunch in the bar’s outdoor courtyard, host other themed events, and host alcohol tastings in the future. Powerful swell, a spiked seltzer company, will be at Phat’s Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. so guests can try out their new seltzer.
Besides bar activities and events, Phat drinks and food are different from many other bars. For example, Do said he spent a lot of time and effort creating Phat’s famous alcoholic boba tea.
âEvery day I tested the teas and could only drink two or three,â Do said. âYou’ll get a buzz pretty quick. “
Even though Phat’s offers typical bar fare like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, chicken wraps, and fries, they do it all themselves.
âEverything we make is in-house, we don’t buy frozen wings or anything,â said Phung Nguyen. âWe actually make the wings in-house, all the sauces are made here, the ranch is made here. “
According to Phung Nguyen, the trio put a lot of time and effort into creating a fun and safe place for the students. Do said their guests fuel the owners’ enthusiasm to keep coming up with new ideas for the bar.
âWe met new people and it was always fun to see them come back,â Do said. âAnd it’s always exciting to see. Seeing the same faces you saw last week is more exciting.